ASU student report on heroin to be simulcast on all Ariz. TV stations

October 16, 2014

In a highly unusual collaboration, every broadcast TV station and most radio outlets across Arizona will simultaneously air a 30-minute, commercial-free investigative report produced by Arizona State University student journalists on the growing perils of heroin and opioid use.

Teams of advanced journalism students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication also will produce packages of digital stories and data analyses available on the Web, an accompanying mobile tablet app, and Spanish-language and radio versions of the documentary. Cronkite News team meeting Download Full Image

The statewide simulcast of “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona” will air Jan. 13 on 32 TV stations in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma and most of the state’s radio stations. The air time will be 6:30 p.m. on most stations.

Art Brooks, president and CEO of the Arizona Broadcasters Association, developed the idea after learning of the seriousness of the issue and organized the backing of the state’s broadcast industry.

“The scourge of heroin and opioid addiction is killing hundreds of Arizonans, and the growing problem is reaching epidemic levels,” Brooks said. “Broadcast stations are fiercely competitive, but our industry leaders are bonding together on this public danger in order to save lives.”

During and after the telecast, the ABA will sponsor a call center for viewers seeking counseling or more information on heroin and opioid addiction. A 100-phone center with trained counselors will be set up in the studios of Arizona PBS on the sixth floor of the Cronkite Building on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, lauded the Arizona initiative.

“It is nothing short of extraordinary to have every TV broadcaster in a state come together and jointly agree to air – commercial free in a widely viewed time slot – an important piece of public service journalism,” said Smith, a former U.S. senator from Oregon who leads the trade association of the nation’s TV and radio broadcasters.

“It is a testament to the greater leadership of the Arizona Broadcasters Association and the general managers across the state and their tremendous commitment to their communities,” Smith said. “I have no doubt that the Cronkite heroin project will make a real impact on this critical public health issue and save lives.”

The Arizona Broadcasters Association championed a similar project in 2008. That special report, which focused on crystal meth in Arizona, was produced by an out-of-state company. Brooks said the Arizona general managers would only agree to donate their airtime again if the new project was produced by the Cronkite School.

“The ABA and the leaders of Arizona’s broadcast stations have great confidence in the Cronkite School’s students and faculty and their ability to produce a powerful, objective and informative 30-minute TV special that we will be proud to air on all of our stations,” said Brooks, a member of the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees.

Cronkite is devoting eight faculty members and 70 students to the semester-long project.

“We are activating the full resources of the Cronkite School for this critically important project,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “It is a great testament to our fantastic students and professors that the state’s broadcast industry has such faith in their work and abilities.”

The special TV report is spearheaded by a team of students led by Jacquee Petchel, a Cronkite professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and editor.

Another Pulitzer winner, Knight Chair Steve Doig, is leading a team of students analyzing data on more than 10 million Arizona hospital emergency room cases, including more than 2,000 heroin overdoses, as well as census demographics to pinpoint the patterns and hot spots of heroin abuse.

The Cronkite News bureau in Phoenix, led by Steve Elliott, a Cronkite School professor and former Associated Press bureau chief in Phoenix, is producing a series of multimedia stories for the Web that will be available to all media outlets.

The New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, directed by Retha Hill, former vice president of Black Entertainment Television and a digital media pioneer, is creating a tablet app on the history of heroin.

The Cronkite Public Insight Network Bureau, led by veteran public radio journalist Rebecca Blatt, is deploying the network to locate sources not previously tapped by journalists.

Associate professor Fran Matera and students in the Cronkite Public Relations Lab are producing a strategic communications plan for the TV special. The Arizona Newspapers Association is encouraging newspapers across the state to run promotional ads for the special report.

The TV stations committed to the simulcast include:

Phoenix DMA:



KAZT-TV (IND) Prescott-Phoenix




KNAZ-TV (NBC) Flagstaff


KUTP-TV (My45)



KTAZ-TV (Telemundo)


Tucson DMA:




KHRR-TV (Telemundo)




Yuma DMA:






KESE-TV (Telemundo)

OSWT-TV (Estrella)

Reporter , ASU News


Sun Devils score impressive number of Academic All-Americans

October 16, 2014

For Sun Devil Athletics, the most visible measure of success typically comes from the scoreboard. But behind the scenes, when it comes to academics, ASU’s athletes are putting up some very impressive numbers as well.

Since 2000, ASU has produced 70 Academic All-Americans – a number surpassed by just six schools in the country. In the Pac-12 alone, only Stanford, with 86 Academic All-Americans, has produced more. In the more than 60 years that Academic All-American awards have been given out, ASU has the 16th-most in the nation and ranks third in the Pac-12, behind Stanford and UCLA. Arizona State softball player hitting the ball Download Full Image

Academic All-Americans are selected from a national pool of scholar athletes by the College Sports Information Directors of America. An athlete must have at least a 3.2 grade point average, depending on the sport, and be a significant on-field contributor to the team.

Jean Boyd, a defensive back for the Sun Devils in the early 1990s, is now the senior associate athletic director for ASU’s Student Athlete Development. He points to the many changes in the university as a whole that have impacted the academic success of ASU’s student-athletes.

“Look at what has happened at ASU in the last 15 years,” says Boyd. “We’ve seen Dr. Crow’s arrival as president, ASU’s rapid ascent as a highly regarded academic institution, the continued evolution of Barrett, the Honors College, and the effort to increase the number of merit scholars. It all really ties in together.”

Boyd says the change in campus atmosphere has helped open up recruiting circles so that some of the highest achieving athletes in all sports are considering Arizona State University in greater numbers. Barrett is a key draw for many of the athletes, with nearly 40 Sun Devil student-athletes enrolled in the honors program.

“Our coaches, especially the ones who have been here for a longer period of time, would say we are able to get in the conversation with a different profile of athlete than we were 20 years ago,” Boyd says. “The status of ASU has moved from ‘good school with a social life’ to ‘great academic institution.’”

Kevin McGraw, a faculty member in the School of Life Sciences, serves as chairman of the Sun Devil Athletics Board, a group of faculty members and key university administrators focused on keeping strong connections between academics and faculty and Sun Devil Athletics. In his four years with the board, he has seen firsthand efforts to help students reach athletic and academic success.

“I’ve been most impressed with how ASU personalizes the student-athlete support and enhances their academic experience in a diversity of majors,” McGraw says. “Recruiting academically strong kids is a priority, and once they arrive on campus they're off and running."

Across the board, ASU’s academic numbers are continuing to rise according to Boyd. This past spring, he says Sun Devil Athletics saw the highest overall GPA for its students for a single semester – a 3.05 for 525 students in the program. The school also hit record marks for the Academic Progress Rate, a measurement by the NCAA showing the progress of every athlete in the program toward graduation.

Boyd says his bottom line in all of the academic support efforts is simple: to help the students succeed in all that they do.

“Our goal is that every individual student-athlete would maximize their human potential as they compete for championships,” he says. “We want to help them become a champion for life.”

For a complete list of ASU Academic All-Americans visit:

Gary Campbell

Media Relations and Marketing Manager , Fulton Schools of Engineering